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The biggest team disappointing fans this year in the NBA has got to be the New York Knicks. The No. 2 overall seed in the Eastern Conference last year, with a record of 54-28, is long-gone and this season’s version of the Knicks is producing lackluster play night after night.
The Knicks' latest disaster was earlier this week as they lost to the league’s worst team - the Milwaukee Bucks, which dropped them to 19-29. Such lazy and heartless basketball has enraged fans.
It’s also now begging the question if Carmelo Anthony should be traded. The 29-year-old forward will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and there are rumors that he won’t re-sign with the Knicks at year’s end.
While the Knicks were getting their doors blown off by the Pacers in last year’s Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, even the most pessimistic fan couldn’t imagine that this Melo trade talk could actually exist only nine months later.
While there is no doubt about his scoring talents, Anthony leaves a lot to be desired in many other areas of his game. Basketball intangibles are what a star player must prove valuable in order for his team to win a title, as seen in Miami right now. Where fans sometimes miss the boat is when only scoring points is looked at in determining a great player or not. It's true that only a handful of guys can score the ball like him, but does that make a champion?
When a franchise hits the critical point that this one is currently facing, there must be self-evaluation and serious discussion about all possibilities.
The major argument against any trade thoughts would be simply that it is too tough in today’s NBA to find a star player. Anthony is the reigning “Scoring Champ” and has been superb over the past month and change. He is currently averaging 27.3 points a game and has been the Knicks' only constant this season, according to Basketball Reference.
The argument in favor of trading Anthony is where it gets fun. Despite the Knicks having an owner in James Dolan, who still doesn’t get it, they must try to face things intelligently.
Trading him would be smart because of their current salary cap situation. All Knicks fans realize why they’ve been one of the worst franchises in the league over the past decade or so. They realize it’s because of poor salary cap management.
After next season (2014-2015) is when the Knicks will finally be free of the Amare Stoudemire contract and others, which will allow them much needed cap relief and the ability to be aggressive in free agency. This would be the same summer that Kevin Love, rumored target of the Knicks, would become an unrestricted free agent.
Do the Knicks sign Melo to a long term deal and bank on the summer of 2015? Can the duo of Love and a 31-year-old Melo win a title? Or do you get what you can now for Melo via trade and tear the whole thing down?
One motivating factor in this decision could be the fact that the Knicks already mortgaged their future to get where they are right now. They have very few draft picks in the upcoming years, including the Denver Nuggets owning the Knicks 1st Round Draft Pick in 2014 from the Carmelo Anthony deal three years ago, according to the Denver Post.
Ironic wouldn’t you say? And even more damaging to the Knicks' soul is that this looks to be one of the better draft classes in quite some time.
Trading Anthony will allow for cap space sooner, as well as much needed draft picks, increasing the odds of finding the right cornerstone player. While it’s tough getting equal value for an unrestricted free agent, it can be done.
The NBA is a league of a few “Haves” and the rest “Have-Nots.” Only a few teams each season have a chance to win a championship and the Knicks are miles away from that. The depressing realization is that even if they do make the playoffs this season, it will be short-lived.
Trade Anthony before the deadline and start fresh. Going young, drafting smart, and having salary cap flexibility will prove to have better odds than hoping that a free agent will come in 2015 to play with a 31-year-old superstar scorer, not superstar player.
The Feb. 20 trade deadline is fast approaching. It is now your time to shine, owner James Dolan and general manager Steve Mills.
image: Wikimedia Commons